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Highworth Grammar School in Ashford opens state-of-the-art sports centre

By Charlie Harman

A school's state-of-the-art sports centre has opened following a year of construction work.

Highworth Grammar School treated guests to afternoon tea and a tour of the site as teachers cut the ribbon on their new £2 million Vink Centre.

The hall is made up of four multi-purpose courts and a terrace overlooking the school’s playing field, and was built on the site of two tennis courts and a long jump runway, which will be replaced.

Group picture of the guests. (10178122)
Group picture of the guests. (10178122)

The complex was designed by architects Ingleton Wood who also secured funding for the project through Kent's first successful use of the government’s new condition improvement fund.

Its name comes from governor of 21 years, Martin Vink, with head teacher Paul Danielsen saying there was no question about the name being chosen.

Mr Danielsen said: "It is a credit to all of the hard work he has put in.

Headteacher Paul Danielsen opens the centre with governor and namesake Martin Vink. (10178088)
Headteacher Paul Danielsen opens the centre with governor and namesake Martin Vink. (10178088)

"We are really going to miss Martin as a governor.

"He is unbelievably helpful and has such attention to detail."

Mr Vink is credited with playing a key role in securing funding for the centre and suggesting the striking curved roof design.

Two of Highworth's previous headteachers came to the unveiling, Lesley Lee who ran the school from 1994 to 2006 and Jean Byers - head from 1987 to 1994. Current headteacher Paul Danielsen is centre.
Two of Highworth's previous headteachers came to the unveiling, Lesley Lee who ran the school from 1994 to 2006 and Jean Byers - head from 1987 to 1994. Current headteacher Paul Danielsen is centre.

He said: "Sport requires effort and application. It sets personal challenges but can give so much, whether it is the health benefits of being fit, achieving individual goals, learning how to work in teams, as well as providing friendships and - through sports clubs - support.”

Four generations of Mr Vink's family attended the launch on May 2, which featured music recitals performed by Toby Daines, Seamus Scully and Emmanuel Webb.

An exhibition netball match marked the first sporting activity in the facility.

Students plant a time capsule near the centre. Pictured: Nadya South, Tanya Gupta, Elvie Sunny, Kiera Broadbank, Lauren Parr, Lauren Hone and Catherine Knight. (10178294)
Students plant a time capsule near the centre. Pictured: Nadya South, Tanya Gupta, Elvie Sunny, Kiera Broadbank, Lauren Parr, Lauren Hone and Catherine Knight. (10178294)

Last month, a time capsule was planted nearby by representatives from each of the school's form groups.

Presented by contractor Beardwell Construction, the pod contains items and records created by the school's students to depict their lives and school activities.

Deputy head teacher Douglas Hall said: "It is hoped that the time capsule will remain hidden away until it is discovered in 20 or 30 years."

To top off the sporty celebrations at Highworth, the school's U15 futsal team triumphed at the national finals the day after the centre's opening.

Highworth's U15 Futsal team became national champions the day after the centre's unveiling. (10177302)
Highworth's U15 Futsal team became national champions the day after the centre's unveiling. (10177302)

Similar to five-a-side football, the sport features smaller goals and a heavier ball.

The grammar school's mixed team beat Tollbar Academy 5-0 in the final at St George's Park.

Three goals came from Freya Burns, one from Frankie Stannard and one from Alicia Grimmond.

Read more: All the latest news from Ashford

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